Florida System for Classification of Habitats in Estuarine and Marine Environments (SCHEME)

With Gulf of Mexico Program support, FWRI has worked on reviewing habitat-classification systems used within Florida and throughout the world in an attempt to recommend one system as a State of Florida standard.

The intent is to create a system that will provide a common terminology for the description and consistent inventory and reporting of Florida's estuarine and marine benthic habitats.

More than 15 benthic-habitat-classification systems have been used in Florida within the past 25 years, and various other systems are in use throughout the other Gulf of Mexico states.  Such a variety of classification systems makes comparison of mapping results and compilation of regional maps for statewide or gulf-wide reporting difficult. Evidence of the desire for a standardized, hierarchical classification system was gained from results of a 1998 workshop in which researchers and marine-resource managers ranked creation of standard mapping protocols and a hierarchical classification system as the top two priorities (FMRI, Seagrass and Aquatic Habitat Workshop Summary 1998).

In Florida, habitat mapping and inventorying is performed by a variety of government agencies at state, federal, and local levels as well as by private industry. The methods employed have varied and changed through time as technology and knowledge of the coastal systems has advanced. Interpretation of aerial photography is the most common method of regional-scale habitat inventorying in nearshore waters, although underwater videography, snorkeling or SCUBA diving, singlebeam and multi-beam acoustic sensors, hyperspectral and multispectral imaging, and LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) have played roles in benthic-habitat interpretation.

View the preliminary Florida System for Classification of Habitats in Estuarine and Marine Environments (SCHEME) (1MB PDF)

Prior to July1, 2004, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) was known as the Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI).

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